How To Fight Discrimination

San Francisco 2017

If you saw the recent news about transgenders being banned from our military, you may have felt what I felt — outrage about Trump. The recent spate of discrimination in America adds to a growing number of major problems in America — widening inequality, stagnant economy, perverse healthcare system, melting planet, etc.

How best to respond to news like this? Typical American reactions include:

  1. Believe Trump is not that bad — our president is crazy but not effective, which is better than a demagogue who’s both crazy and effective. So just shrug and let things be.
  2. Believe we can impeach Trump, fast-follow with impeaching Pence, and then leave Ryan to lead our nation. Then things will get better.
  3. Believe robo-butlers and flying-cars can save us. Go build cool shit and get rich.

Which of these do you believe in?

If you believe option 1, your indifference won’t do anything and the problems will persist. If you believe option 2 and Ryan becomes president, you’ve removed the Trump but this doesn’t reduce bigotry in Deep America. If you believe option 3 and spend your days building cool shit, congrats you’ve distracted yourself from dealing with real problems.

What caused our nation’s problems

The problems around you, i.e. inequality, declining life expectancy, stagnant incomes, are symptoms of a disease — the disease of underinvestment in what matters most.

We complain loudly about the symptoms, because symptoms show up front and center in the news. But we rarely think about the disease, because America’s disease is harder to see and harder to talk about.

How did the disease of underinvestment cause our problems?

Take healthcare for example. The cost of healthcare are fictional prices set by beancounters. Getting health insurance is like entering an all-you-can-eat buffet— order whatever scans, labs, drugs you want, it won’t cost you more. This is totally detached from the reality of what a patient needs. So both doctors and patients abuse our healthcare system — doctors order services the patients don’t need, and patients get treatments that does nothing. When more money is spent on useless treatments, less money is being saved, and less money can be invested in efforts can actually improve healthcare. Hence, we end up underinvesting in what matters most for healthcare.

For years, we’ve over-consumed on the wrong things, resulting in not having money to invest in the right things. Across the board, we underinvested in healthcare, education, transportation, and our planet. We underinvested in things that lead to genuinely good lives for people.

The wealthy in San Francisco invest in buying palaces. But palaces won’t fix any of our problems.

This is what American society shapes us to do

America’s disease has been around for decades. We’ve been underinvesting since the Reagan days. The irony is that many Americans see Ronald Reagan, our Hollywood hero, as one of our best presidents. No, he’s not.

Money being hoarded at the top 1% means there’s no money to be invested for the 99%. This means we have no money to create what really matters: genuinely good lives for everyone. But society has shaped us to believe otherwise.

Society shaped us to believe that working harder for less just to please the 1% is fair. No, it is not. Society told us to believe that America is best ordered for those at the top. By those with the most. And those in the middle can sink or swim. No, it cannot be.

In our era of turbulence, ignorance and bigotry is widespread and people have lost faith in the future. The average American is suffering and is punishing his fellow Americans for his own suffering — punish the next person for your own foolish over-consumption of the wrong things, starve them from their rights, income, opportunity, safety.

The best way to respond to the Trumpism

Trumpism is a symptom of decades of underinvestment. Decades of underinvestment snowballed into massive problems for our nation.

If you want to turn our society’s trajectory away from the path toward self-destruction, then you need to replace overconsumption of things that don’t matter with investment in things that do matter. And we need to do it fast. Only then do we have a chance of turning our trajectory around.

What sort of things are worth investing in?

In our troubled country, you have lots of options. You can invest in schools, in hospitals, in trees, … Just invest in whatever you think really matters.